Definition - What does Grow Tube mean?
Grow tubes are open-ended cylinders placed over young vines to help speed up and promote upright growth. There are several benefits to grow tubes; the most useful being the protection vines from animals and herbicides that drift into vineyards from other nearby vineyards. Whether or not a vineyard manager uses grow tubes is an individual choice that is based on climate, growth patterns and other factors.
Grow tubes are tied to a stake using holes punched in the top of the tube and placed over newly planted vines. The tubes are attached this way to provide stability so that the interior of the tube doesn’t come into contact with the vines, which could potentially damage the buds and new shoots. Once in place, soil is mounded up around the tube (around 3 to 4 inches high); this minimizes herbicide contact and maximizes the greenhouse effect. Tubes are left in place until the vines grow over the tubes or late summer arrives; the tubes are then removed to allow the vines to harden before winter.
WineFrog explains Grow Tube
Graham Tuley developed grow tubes in Great Britain in 1979; he wrapped polyethylene around mesh guards to increase the growth rate of new trees. Between the 90s and 2000s, grow tubes evolved to be used in the vineyard. The first generation were heavy, rugged devices that were expensive and inappropriate for vines. The newer versions developed in the late 2000s were lighter and less expensive (about 30 to 65 cents USD per tube).
They come in many shapes and sizes, each with a different result based on climate and weather conditions. Round tubes offer less wind resistance than square tubes and have a larger internal area than triangular tubes. Split tubes allow for easier plant maintenance during the growing season and can be removed without taking the vine off the trellis wire. Tubes also range in height. The most common heights are 24”, 30” and 36”. The larger the diameter of the tube, the more conducive for producing multiple trunks and producing thicker vines, allowing for a larger root system and more above-ground vine mass for grape production.
- Create a greenhouse effect that promotes growth
- Protect against wind
- Make herbicide management easier
- Reduce danger to vines when applying post-emergence or contact herbicides
- Provide moisture from condensation during dry periods without irrigation
- Protect young vines from animals (rabbits, deer, rodents)
Disadvantages of grow tubes:
- Vines grown without tubes produce more leaves
- Vine stocks sometimes have substandard wood quality
- Reduces cold hardiness
- Increases the potential for fungal growth under the tube
- Cost - both purchase and storage of tubes
- Grape clusters may grow inside the tube
- Leaving the tube on too long may damage the vine if it grows too tall and hangs over the tube